Thanksgiving has become something of a Super Bowl-style event for foodies across the country. Whether we frantically prepare our own recipes at home or rely on local restaurants to cook up our turkey day treats, food comes first.
Having said that, being someone who writes about food makes me especially grateful for all of the dining options we have in our good condition. Not only do I enjoy food on what some would call a spiritual level, but exploring and documenting the foods that power our communities is a unique opportunity that fills me with gratitude. Since taking stock of the blessings of our lives is such an integral part of perfectly cooked turkeys or a gravy stew, I’d like to spend some time cataloging the dishes and institutions I’m grateful for this year.
The Utah Food Bank (utahfoodbank.org). I have had the privilege of speaking with members of the Utah Food Bank organization over the years, and their operation is one of the greatest forces for the good that we have. With a strong reputation for community outreach and volunteer service, this institution has provided millions of meals to individuals and families in need. During this time of year when many of us are focusing on the delicious Thanksgiving menus we plan to savor, let’s not forget those who might need some extra help while on vacation. With many different ways to help the food bank, from donating money or food to volunteering, there is something that even the most in a hurry of us can contribute.
Toppings and emulsions (multiple locations, fillsandemulsions.com). As I got older I tried to devote more time and effort to causes that strive to make the world a better place. One of my entry points into this new sense of philanthropy was the annual bake sales organized by Fillings and Emulsions. There is something universally rewarding about these events and they have become something of a tradition for me and my family. Donating money to help marginalized communities is still relevant today, but Fillings and Emulsions have used this platform to create a sense of oneness that always brings a smile to my heart. Of course, it’s charity where you get delicious baked goods in return, but getting a little something sweet to munch on while also contributing to a worthy cause makes the process much more enjoyable. Helping people love to give for a good cause is a rare talent, but it’s something Chef Diaz and his team have almost perfected.
Happy Hour at Itto Sushi (multiple locations, ittoutah.com). Sometimes I just need to have a good time with the sushi rolls at Itto Sushi. Thanks to their happy hour menu that starts on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, it’s something I can afford whenever the need arises. The Sushi Vampire, with its spicy baked baby lobster tail and tempura shrimp, packs enough punch to get me moving, and the Mafia Roll is usually enough when I need a little bit of sliced jalapeño with my tuna for additional impact. Of course, I will always have fond memories of my first experience with the Dracula Roll and its small wooden coffin filled with smoke. It’s times like these that make me all warm and confused with gratitude for the creativity at work within our local food scene.
Local fusion restaurants. Nothing makes me happier than a menu that happily combines foods and techniques from multiple culinary origins into something unique. Over the past few years, we’ve seen places like Curry Pizza (currypizzaonline.com), Tandoori Taqueria (tandooritaqueria.com), Kabob Bros (the-kabob-bros.business.site) and Sanfran Burritos N Fryz (sfburritout.com) ) reinventing the idea of comfort food. Let’s also not forget fusion pioneers like Fav Bistro (bestthaifoodinutah.com), Curry Fried Chicken (cfcslc.com) and The Angry Korean (theangrykorean.com), who dared to cross these waters in the first place. I will always be grateful to the chefs and restaurateurs who continue to create new offerings in the world of pizza, burritos and cheesesteak sandwiches.
Weekly city readers. Last, but not least, people who hold onto a copy of Weekly City weekly, or enter online. I have gotten to know many local food lovers during my tenure as the magazine’s kitchen dude, and I am always charmed by the generosity, common sense and enthusiasm for all things local and delicious posted by our readers. I have received great tips and recommendations from our readers over the years, and I hope the restaurant section will do the same for you. The hospitality industry is still struggling to recover from a hellish round of bombs fired over the past few years, but I’ve seen good examples of locals supporting the restaurants and local brands they love. I love exploring Utah’s culinary offerings and look forward to another year to document Utah’s food ecosystem with all of you.